Canelo vs. Angulo Undercard Preview –
Featuring: Leo Santa Cruz vs. Cristian Mijares, Carlos Molina vs. Jermall Charlo, and Omar Figueroa vs. Ricardo Alvarez
- Date: March 8, 2014
- Site: MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Leo Santa Cruz, 26-0-1 (15 KOs) vs. Cristian Mijares, 49-7-2 (24 KOs)
The fast-rising 25-year old Santa Cruz makes another calculated step in taking on the veteran ex-115 pound kingpin Mijares. Santa Cruz has been impressive in almost all his outings, though he is taking baby-steps to the big time. Mijares is still a worthy opponent and has actually kept it together nicely since tumbling emphatically from the pound-for-pound rankings–a spot he held in the 2007-08 range. Still, he lost last year in a split nod to Victor Terrazas, the same guy Santa Cruz torched in 3 rounds just 2 fights ago.
We all saw some bad signs in Santa Cruz’ last fight, a decision win over Cesar Seda, like maybe Santa Cruz has grown stale during this protracted rise to the top. Seda deserves credit for a better performance than anticipated, but Santa Cruz should be eager to blow more wind into the sails of his career, with the buzz from a year or two ago having died off a bit. The 31-year old Mijares still has a ton of skills, tricks, and experience. He shouldn’t be sold short. But in 2014 and at 122 pounds, Mijares represents, at best, a B-level threat.
I don’t much care for this career path for Santa Cruz. He gets credit in some circles for having won “world titles” in two weight classes, but he hasn’t really graduated from the promising contender role in terms of the actual opposition he has fought. He’s languishing in this realm of the sport for far too long and they should have thrown him in with a top guy by now. Be that as it may, Santa Cruz is going to be too big, insistent, and energetic for Mijares. I look for a lopsided 12-round decision in Santa Cruz’ favor.
Prediction: Leo Santa Cruz wins in a unanimous decision.
Carlos Molina, 22-5-2 (6 KOs) vs. Jermall Charlo, 17-0 (13 KOs)
The undercard also features another 154-pound battle, a compelling bout between the slick veteran Molina and the undefeated blue-chip prospect Charlo. A look at their records may lead some to pick Charlo. While that could be the right pick, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Despite an uneven record that shows only 6 stoppages in 29 fights, Molina is a top campaigner who is slick, cunning, and capable. He represents a tough entrance exam into the deep waters at 154 pounds, even for a good-looking prospect like Charlo.
Molina has quietly racked up some nice gems on his resume. His record requires you to look in between the lines a bit. He could have easily won decisions against Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and Mike Alvarado on his way up, losing a pair of majority decisions. Against Chavez, Jr., he was 0-1-1 in two fights. Since 2007, no one has really been able to beat him in any kind of decisive manner. He fought Erislandy Lara to a draw and breezed past Kermit Cintron in 2011, and came out on the rotten end of a disqualification-loss against James Kirkland when his corner came into the ring early in 2012. Decision wins over Cory Spinks and Ishe Smith have him right near the top at 154 pounds.
That’s a lot to ask of Charlo. Sure, he looks good–a 6 foot boxer/puncher with abundant talent. He faces the age-old question of whether he can make his talent and physical gifts translate at the highest level of the sport, against a guy who had to work hard to get here and has been in with far more-serious opposition. The 23-year old Charlo has a lot of ability, talent, and focus. When he zeroes in and gets rolling, he’s a tough package to beat.
I have a funny feeling that it may be difficult for the hard-luck Molina to get a decision. For how good he may be, he can’t draw flies. His record shows a history of officials going out of their way to avoid giving him his due credit and unfortunately for Molina, he doesn’t have the punching power to gain massive separation from good fighters. Just about every close fight has gone against him. On a big card like this, why would it be any different?
Not that Charlo can’t win this outright and convincingly, because he may be able to do that. It could come down to the fact that Charlo is perceived as having more upside, allowing him to win a fight that Molina may have actually won.
Prediction: Jermall Charlo wins by split decision.
Omar Figueroa, 22-0-1 (17 KOs) vs. Ricardo Alvarez, 23-2-3 (14 KOs)
If you don’t immediately recall the name Omar Figueroa, think back to last year’s frenzied battle against Nihito Arakawa last July, a Fight of the Year candidate where only it’s lack of mainstream appeal cost it the top slot. After a deserved break, the unbeaten Texas lightweight contender faces the older brother of the star of the show, Ricardo Alvarez.
I could be wrong, but I think Alvarez, 32, is fortunate that he’s Canelo’s brother. They’re trying to give him a push and it doesn’t look like it’s going to work out. And they certainly didn’t do him any favors putting him against the relentless, hard-hitting, and ultra strong-willed Figueroa. I could be placing too much stock in what looked to be a losing effort against a so-so Rod Salka in December, a fight Alvarez won by majority decision. In addition, you have to wonder how much the Arakawa fight took out of Figueroa.
In the end, look for the 24-year old Figueroa to pursue the tricky Alvarez, who does seem to be durable. After a few rounds, Figueroa should be able to start doing serious damage, with Alvarez not quite able to summon the firepower to repel him. I look for this one to end inside the distance.
Prediction: Omar Figueroa wins by 6th-round knockout.